May 20, 2009

Living Within Your Means

I just finished reading an article about what the credit card bill is supposed to do and was disappointed a number of the comments. A number of posters made the obvious comments about the need for people to live within their means.

That is a no brainer that I haven't any disagreement with. However it is not as black and white as many people would like to think of it as being. Quite a few people live in situations in which they are just a few steps away from falling into serious financial distresss.

This is not a polemic or an apology but the reality of life. A family may have two working parents who are able to pay all of the bills without having to finance anything. Said parents might have spent years building a savings up to help tide them over for that mythical rainy day.

But the thing is that it doesn't take much for that apple cart to be toppled. What happens if one of them becomes disabled and is no longer able to work. What happens if sudden and unexpected healthcare costs become necessary.

These scenarios aren't without precedent and they aren't impossibilities. Things happen. And when they happen you can't give the bank an IOU for the mortgage or tell your insurance company that you are good for the money. You can't feed your children with promises.

So I find it sad and distasteful to read to these comments where the self righteous suggest that financial difficulties are due to irresponsible behavior. I recognize that no one wants to be forced to pay more because of the irresponsible or dishonest behavior of others, but at the same time that is life.

We pay more for many products and services because the businesses are trying to protect themselves. I don't like it, but that is just how it is. And as I have said many times I believe in a society that looks out for each other. We have a social obligation to help each other.

The distinction here is that I don't think we should be talking about hand outs, but a hand up. If we do what we can to provide support and resources for our community it is better for everyone.

What do you think?

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